Ten Days in May

The most perfect lazy day
20th May 2014


Today was a stay at home day.

Despite waking up really early we stayed in bed for what felt like hours, drifting in and out between sleep and wake. It was blissful. We don't often allow ourselves the luxury of having nothing planned, no itinerary, no schedule to keep just a day of nothingness.

It was the lure of the full-fat Greek yogurt that eventually got me out of bed. Thankfully all the effort of getting up was worth it. The rich creamy yogurt tasted phenomenal.

We had our breakfast outside again on the patio. The skies were blue and the sun was bright, a big improvement on yesterday's weather. As we finished our toast and coffee we both caught ourselves smiling. It's just felt so wonderful to be here, it felt good for the soul.

Our most pressing issue was "where are we going to lounge for the morning?" It was a beautiful day so we relocated down by the pool to soak up some of the glorious sunshine.

Time moved gently along.

Adriana came and went, cleaned the apartment from top to bottom. It was then time for lunch. A bruschetta topped with some delicious chopped ripe tomatoes seasoned with garlic and oregano was the perfect snack, especially when washed down with an ice cold bottle of Fix beer.

Apparently the phrase "to have your fix" (which is usually used in relation with some addiction) is derived from hippies on the trail to the Hindu Kush passing through Greece and drinking this beer.

That seems a bit tenuous and I have to say that it wasn't that good for me to develop a craving for another one!

After lunch we got a little bored of doing nothing so we put on our shoes and explored area within the Braunis Horio Villa complex. We followed a path up to a really nice shaded patio area with comfortable seats to relax and enjoy the incredible view.

From here the well-maintained path continued through a terraced garden zig zagging downhill. Julie was doing fine until she reached the edge of the cliff and the path continued down to the sea.

That's when her sense of balance deserted her.

She gave it go, managing two steps before she hit the ground reaching for the rock for some stability. That's where she stayed whilst I bounded like a mountain goat down to the water.

At the end there was a concrete platform from which you could sunbathe or fish if you were into that sort of thing. They had also provided steps and a handrail to assist with clambering back out of the water after a swim or if you inadvertently fell in.

I was in constant contact with Julie just to let her know that I hadn't fallen into water!

Sat on the ledge looking out to sea I remembered that this very moment sat here with the entire Ionian at my feet was the inspiration for my "Learn to Swim" resolution (2014), the one I never fulfilled, not even close, didn't even start any lessons.

So instead of diving in headlong into the warm azure ocean I sat there dipping my toes into it wishing yet again I could swim.

With my experiences box still left unticked I re-joined Julie who herself was regretting having the balance of a penguin and promised to try harder next time, which we scheduled for Thursday. (Actually I'm being a bit harsh on penguins there, they have a lot of ice to contend with!)

On our way back up the steps we decided to continue today's walkabout but first we had to get dressed for public consumption. Neither of us are the type to parade ourselves in beachwear even if it is tolerated in some places.

So dressed tidy but without looking like the middle-aged tourists that we are, we left the villa and walked down into the village.

We ended up strolling down the port side of the small bay, past the restaurant slated in our visitor's book for its rude staff and continued all the way to the end of a small pier that jutted its way out into the bay.

It felt awesome standing there, as if we were right in the centre of a cauldron. We turned 360 degrees to absorb all that natural energy from this spectacular location. The sun was still warm but we could see clouds gathering over the hills beyond Assos.

Having only had a light lunch our stomachs suggested that another light snack was perfectly acceptable. Swayed by the bad reviews we had read about the bar on the harbour we avoided Molios. It was a shame really as it was in a great spot.

The best location in town however was unquestionably the Assos Blue Cafe right on the beach, so that's where we headed.

The menu was basic and with a Walls ice cream freezer outside it wasn't pretending to be anything other than a simple cafe. A plate of fries and a bowl of tzaziki was ordered, along with two beers.

The Amstel lager arrived first, served in perfectly chilled jugs. They must store the glasses in the Walls ice cream freezer because a layer of ice had formed on the glass.

The nectar of the gods had never looked so inviting!

Julie and I shared the fries and tzaziki. She had the fries and I had the tzaziki!

The cucumber and yogurt dip was delicious. Clearly the quality of the yogurt made a difference and a wonderful hint of dill lifted the dish into something special.

I did have some fries as well and they were better than I expected. By that I mean they were proper real cut potatoes and not a frozen packet crinkle cut variety.

We wondered if "brunch" is breakfast/lunch combined then what is a late lunch snack break called? Whatever it was it was a satisfying one.

As we were tucking into our lateunch (no you're right, it'll never catch on) the idyllic setting did have one drawback. A couple of people were now on the beach and it was like watching a wildlife programme from the Galapagos Islands.

Over there a beached whale, next to the pink walrus. There were no blue-footed boobies but we were privileged to catch a glimpse of an ancient Tortoise.

This elderly woman, easily well into her seventies, as bold as brass undressed, by that I mean stripped naked and calmly put on her swimming costume. It was quite a disturbing sight!

Once the sideshow was over we left the Blue Cafe via the better of the mini-markets, picking up a few bits and pieces for tonight, including a mini-bar sized bottle of ouzo!

Back at our villa we spent the late afternoon as we did this morning, lounging down by our pool. The clouds we saw earlier had stayed caught on the higher ground leaving Assos in glorious sunshine.

One thing I hadn't packed on this trip was a hat to protect my scalp from the sun. I had noticed that my head was starting to feel a little tender to the touch so I massaged 50 factor sun cream into my scalp and tied my hair up in a top knot to avoid any further damage!

Julie laughed out loud and said "You look like a skinny sumo wrestler!" I have to admit that I did look funny.

It wasn't long before it was time to start prepping for supper. We had a barbecue to plan.

I "spatchcocked" Julie's chicken, which kind of means cutting the bird almost in half and then flatten it so that it cooks more evenly and thoroughly on the barbecue.

I then made a marinade by adding to olive oil some chopped garlic and a squeeze of lemon. This zesty oil I rubbed all over the carcass and left it in the fridge to soak in the flavours.

The next task was to build the fire. It wasn't straightforward, especially without anything flammable to get the damn thing going. All I had was some twisted paper "twigs" which didn't seem to want to catch fire. I resorted in the end to placing whole matchboxes into the mound of charcoal as replacement firelighters.

Finally the flames began and the coal heated up. I resisted the temptation to start cooking as soon as the flames calmed down. I reminded myself that it's best when the coals are white hot. It took 45 minutes to reach that stage by which time it was like a furnace. Any hotter and I'm sure the iron grill would have melted!

I cooked my veg first, only some mushrooms & red peppers. I also had some halloumi cheese, an essential for any vegetarian barbecue.

Next Julie's chicken was slapped onto the coals.

Whilst it cooked I made a tzaziki and boiled some new potatoes infused with rosemary picked from the terraced garden.

The chicken took over half an hour for us to be happy that the juices ran clear when skewered. There's always the risk of food poisoning with chicken! Now that would ruin the holiday!

Supper was delicious, even if I do say so myself!

I shoved all of mine into a flatbread pitta with a dollop of tzaziki. It tasted so good. Julie was equally enthused by the flavour of here chicken, with the subtle lemon and garlic and the chargrilled-ness was unbeatable.

"This has got to be the best way to cook chicken" she said.

We drank a bottle of a decent light and fruity Robola wine, although, if I understood the Greek alphabet correctly, it was called Romiola on the label.

I wondered if it wasn't quite the real thing and called itself something that sounded similar like a knock-off perfume. Instead of the French Chanel N°5 it's the English Channel No2!

We sat out until the Venetian castle was silhouetted against the dark blue sky and the midges came out to play.

Julie was getting seriously bothered by them. The DEET wasn't working. It was probably past its effective date as it was the repellent we bought for Rwanda three years ago!

It wasn't late when we went to bed but we woke at 3am. The insect bites were irritating Julie. She put the lights on to count a dozen red and itchy marks on her arms alone! (I thought she said "on her arse" but she corrected me!)

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